Alumni return for jam-packed homecoming week

AST tea

Alpha Sigma Tau alumnae find classmates' photos among displays at the sorority's 60th anniversary celebration.

Nenita Fisher-Cromer '92 learned responsibility, independence and leadership skills while a student at Radford University, and she now is excited her son, Christian, will have those same opportunities at her alma mater.

Christian was recently accepted to RU for the fall. He and his mother celebrated the news on campus Saturday at Highlander Hoopla, part of the university's Winter Jam alumni homecoming.

"I'm really proud that he is thinking about going to my university," Fisher-Cromer said. "I thought at first it didn't matter to me, but it does. It's special."

The Highlander Hoopla was just one of numerous events for alumni last week. Winter Jam events included the Highlander Polar Plunge, the School of Nursing's 40th anniversary gala, alumni basketball games, the play "Time Stands Still," a movie, a photography exhibit and a tea party.

The festivities kicked off Feb. 25 with alumni teaching week, an opportunity for alumni to come back to the classroom as guest lecturers.

Kay Alley '06, a speech-language pathologist in the Roanoke City School System, began the series of lectures speaking to students in Associate Professor Corey Cassidy's Communication Sciences and Disorders 455 class.

To enjoy the job, Alley told the class, "you have to love kids." Her presentation focused on how teachers work with children to strengthen their speech and language skills. Alley shared her own experiences, noting that progress may be seen within just weeks but can sometimes take years. The key to success, she said, is patience.

On Thursday, Curtis Brown '02 met with Professor Tanya Corbin's politics of disasters and crises class to talk about his career in homeland security.

Brown, the emergency management administrator for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, recalled sitting in classrooms at RU thirsting for insight from working professionals in his field of study. He also expressed his desire to "give back" as a factor in launching a successful career.

"I had a great experience here in terms of being a student leader and being involved in a lot of things," Brown said after his lecture. "It's a way for me to give back and hopefully share and prepare this next generation of students and professionals on what to expect."

David Oates, a licensed agent for New York Life Insurance, addressed College of Business and Economics marketing classes on Friday and spoke of the importance of maintaining close relationships with classmates long past graduation.

"Next to my immediate family, my Radford family has had the biggest influence on me and my success," Oates said. "Your friends and classmates will carry you well into the next stage of your life."

Also on Friday, former women's and men's basketball players, coaches and managers hit the hardwood for the alumni hoops games in the Dedmon Center.

That same evening, the School of Nursing celebrated its 40th anniversary at a gala with RU President Penelope W. Kyle and Elizabeth Merwin '76, executive vice dean of the School of Nursing at Duke University, as featured speakers.

Held in the new College of Business and Economics building, the event welcomed members of the RU nursing community, from members of the original nursing faculty to recent graduates. "I have such a grateful feeling in my heart for RU," Merwin said. "I learned to be a leader here."

More than 300 people may have felt they needed nursing assistance on Saturday after braving sub-freezing temperatures to splash into the New River in the fourth annual Highlander Polar Plunge. Held at Dudley's Landing in Radford's Bisset Park, the plunge benefited the Southwest Virginia Special Olympics.

Saturday afternoon's activities included a tea to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Alpha Sigma Tau on the RU campus. More than 250 people—alumnae and current students, families and friends—gathered to reconnect with old friends and make new bonds, to see photos and other memorabilia from the 1950s and 1960s up to the present, and to share stories of their sorority experiences. Early members' accounts of their days at Radford College entertained the gathering, held in Muse Banquet Room.

Later on Saturday, alumni, students and the RU community were treated to a double dip of men's and women's basketball. Following the Highlander Hoopla event, the women's team grabbed a 70-64 win over Gardner-Webb, and the men's team fell to Liberty University 73-56.

Zach Rice '12, a former student manager for the men's team, attended the young alumni reunion on Saturday and was eager to be back on campus to watch the men's team compete.

"It's homecoming weekend, and I hadn't gotten a chance to go to many games this season, so I thought I'd tie those both together," Rice said.

Owen Laracuente '04 majored in business marketing at RU and found the weekend to be a perfect opportunity to show his fiancée, Sarah Frances, the university where so many wonderful memories were made.

"Radford was awesome," said Laracuente, who now lives in Charlotte, N.C., and works in the corporate office of the Family Dollar retail chain. "I really enjoyed it. It was a great experience."

Mar 5, 2013
Chad Osborne
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